One of my coworkers suggested that I watch 180° South, a documentary following the journey Jeff Johnson took from Ventura, CA to Patagonia, Chile. He embarked on this quest with the intent to climb the Corcovado Volcano, following in the footsteps of Doug Tompkins and Yvon Chouinard, founders of The North Face and Patagonia companies respectively, who had taken that same exact journey years ago in their youth.
Doug and Yvon rented a van, drove to Patagonia and completed the journey, surfing and enjoying life along the way. Jeff had hopped in a boat, got stuck in Easter Island, and made it to Chile, picking up and making friends throughout his travels. They were true journeys. They did not fly to their destinations, they did not take short cuts. Each view, each rush of exhilaration and exaltation was earned and achieved in pursuit of bliss and adventure.
It’s the journey, they say, not the destination. People have told me that I’ve, in my short 22 years, lived that mantra well. While I’ve appreciated that and received it as a compliment, the mantra has failed in the past to truly resonate with me. I was just doing what I needed to do – listening to the vibrations in my bones and chasing that which lit fire in my veins, pursuing endeavors and positions that make me happy and let me help others.
As I consider plans for a future, I’m slowly beginning to grasp that phrase’s meaning more and more. It’s the journey that matters because (not to be morbid here) there is no destination. We are fleeting, we are short, we pop into and out of this universe involuntarily. From a birds eye view, the little things don’t matter. We need security to survive, we need money and company, but as Yvon says in the documentary, it’s easy to over-complicate and hard to simplify. It is all too easy to make life unnecessarily complex, to make too much of ourselves. It’s hard to remember that in this world, we are small. For that reason, it is of the utmost importance to do what what you love with abandon.
The documentary has me itching. Itching to explore, itching to climb, itching to be in nature, to breathe in crisp fresh air and squint in the light of a new sun, to feel my muscles strain, to inhale expansively while casting my gaze upon the infinity that goes on in white crested waves and jagged peaks of ice and rock. It has me itching to feel small within this great universe but also endlessly connected to everything around me, feeling the fluidity connecting my porous skin with air and wind, not truly knowing where one ends and the other begins. I want adventure, I want to feel free.
That wanderlust is strong and the pull is tugging hard. The little bird tattooed on my neck is tingling, and that’s a good thing; I got it for this reason exactly. I wanted a permanent reminder to never let myself get comfortable in comfort. That bird evokes a sensation of flight, of moving forward, of taking risks and I want to make sure I’m always taking action in order to live out those words.
It’s the journey, not the destination. Being an almost-grad lends itself to forgetting that, to getting caught up and making what should be simple complex. More than anything, I hope for myself that as I figure it all out step by step, I never stop doing those things that I love and I truly enjoy the bliss that will be each adventure along the way.